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Fire Engulfs Academic Building in the Netherlands

May 13, 2008
Updated December 30, 2008

By Deborah Barnstone

Architecture Faculty Building at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands
Architecture Faculty Building at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands
Photos courtesy Wikipedia/Michiel972
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The landmark Architecture Faculty Building at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reportedly collapsed this afternoon after an electrical fire burned out of control. The building, completed in 1970, was designed by J.H. van den Broek and Jacob Bakema, both associated with the rebuilding of Rotterdam after World War II.

The building was evacuated when the fire broke out around 9 a.m. No injuries have been reported.

The fire destroyed far more than a building. Its architecture library is considered one of the finest in Europe, with an outstanding collection of architecture journals and books dating back to the 16th century. According to Dutch newspapers, the fire likely consumed a wealth of irreplaceable materials, such as a collection of close to 300 original chairs by masters of the early modern movement, including Gerrit Rietveld, Mart Stam, and Marcel Breuer. It also destroyed the personal archives of faculty members.

A statement on the university’s Web site reads: “Although there is enormous relief that there have been no casualties, there is also immense sadness about the probable loss of so much research and education work, as well as historic material and collections. No indication can yet be given of the extent of the damage.”

Van den Broek and Bakema inherited their practice from architects Johannes Andreas Brinkman and Leendert van der Vlugt, who designed the famous Van Nelle Factory (1930).

Update: The fire caused a portion of the building to collapse. What remained standing was demolished due to extensive damage. Much, but not all, of the historic chair collection and library contents were destroyed, according to Building Design magazine. The faculty is temporarily housed in the former main TU Deft building at Julianalaan.

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